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Brad Marchand, NHL-best Bruins top Panthers 3-1 in playoff opener

Marchand scores 50th career playoff goal to give Boston 1-0 lead
Boston Bruins Brad Marchand celebrates goal against Florida Panthers goaltender Alex Lyon in Game 1 of playoff series, April 17, 2023
Posted at 8:11 AM, Apr 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-18 08:11:46-04

BOSTON — Brad Marchand has had his share of highlight goals in his career. His latest was more of a lowlight for Florida goalie Alex Lyon.

Marchand scored his 50th career playoff goal on a relatively easy shot, David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk also scored, and the NHL-best Boston Bruins opened the playoffs by beating the Panthers 3-1 on Monday night.

"You never know, come playoff time, you never want to pass up a shot," Marchand said. "That's just kind of how the playoffs work. Sometimes those shots go in and sometimes they don't."

Linus Ullmark, a Vezina Trophy candidate who led the league in wins (40), goals-against average (1.89) and save percentage (.938), stopped 31 shots and Tyler Bertuzzi added two assists for Boston, which controlled the game even with captain Patrice Bergeron sitting out because of illness.

Matthew Tkachuk scored for the Panthers and Lyon made 26 saves — many of them splendid — but gave up Marchand's goal on the soft shot.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Boston.

The Bruins captured the Presidents' Trophy, setting NHL records in points (135) and wins (65). Florida, last season's No. 1 seed, earned the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot with a late-season push.

It's the first playoff matchup between a No. 1 seed and the Presidents' winner from the previous season since the award was introduced in 1985-86.

With the Bruins leading 1-0, Lyon gave up Marchand's early in the second when the winger fired a seemingly harmless shot from the top of the left circle. Lyon bent down to catch it and it tipped off his glove, caroming into the net after hitting the inside of the right post.

Soon after, the TD Garden crowd started serenading him with chants of "Lyon! Lyon!"

Florida Panthers goaltender Alex Lyon after giving up goal to Boston Bruins in Game 1 of playoff series, April 17, 2023
Florida Panthers goaltender Alex Lyon stands in the crease after giving up a goal to the Boston Bruins during the second period of Game 1 of an NHL playoff series Monday, April 17, 2023, in Boston.

"He was good. He'll want the second one back," Florida coach Paul Maurice said of Lyon. "I'm not measuring that as the tell of his game. We'll measure it by the saves that he made."

Pastrnak, a 61-goal scorer this season, was on the opposite side on the right wing from his usual spot on the power play. Bertuzzi collected the rebound of David Krejci's shot in the slot and sent a quick backhand pass to Pastrnak, who snapped the puck into the net at 5:58 of the opening period, pushing Boston ahead 1-0.

Florida cut the lead in half when Boston defenseman Dmitry Orlov sent a blind, backhand pass directly out front, where Tkachuk collected it and flipped the puck past Ullmark at 6:34 of the second.

"I think both teams got better and have more to give, especially us," Panthers center Eetu Luostarinen said.

DeBrusk restored the two-goal lead when he dove into a pile and knocked the puck into the net out of a scramble near the crease late in the second.

"I just saw the puck on his pad," DeBrusk said. "I just tried to dive to get it. But I thought that if I obviously hit his pad, it was goaltender interference. I just tried to go over the top of it. ... As soon I saw the replay, I knew I did what I wanted to do."

As it did to so many opponents during its record-setting season, Boston bottled up Florida in the third.

"Our third period was our best period of the game," Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. "I thought our first five, six minutes were good. After we scored that power-play goal, maybe we had two, three shifts after that, then we kind of had a lull in our game."